A MOVE from paper parking permits to virtual parking permits in Ilkley is causing "distress and inconvenience" to local residents.

The new permits are electronic and can be identified by parking officers using a registration number plate scanner, meaning residents won't have to display a paper permit in their car.

However, the scheme which must be administered online, has left anyone without access to a computer or a smartphone having to ask friends, relatives or Bradford Council for help.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) says she was contacted by exasperated residents within hours of letters being sent out by Bradford Council last week detailing the move which comes into force on August 15.

"Ilkley ward councillors have repeatedly stressed our concerns about the changing process from printed to virtual," she said.

"The main issue apart from having to be IT friendly is the requirement to produce certain documents and the difficulties of using the council website. Residents and indeed citizens appear to be having their freedoms eroded.

"Bradford Council is causing distress and inconvenience to many residents. It seems beyond Bradford’s understanding that many are not into IT in a big way. They are expected to seek and beg for help, indeed advised to - the impertinence of the authority. They cannot conceive that someone might not have a smartphone.

"Once more one has to wonder who employs who. At one time the view was that the council worked for the residents and not the other way round.

"The sad part of this also is that proud, independently living residents have the embarrassment of asking others to sort it out for them."

Fiona Mann, of Addingham, branded the move "an absolute scandal".

She said: "I have just negotiated the nightmare that is the Bradford Council resident/visitor parking permit system for my elderly mother-in-law who is currently awaiting a hip replacement and is not fluent with the internet. Aside from the effrontery of demanding I upload insurance documents and the log-book, I can only apply for one visitor permit for up to 10 cars, only one of which can use the permit at any one time and my mother-in-law (or I) need to log in each time she has a visitor to change the 'active' vehicle using the permit. In other words every time she has a new visitor covered by the visitor permit, she has to ring me to make that vehicle 'active'. And despite the fact that she is practically house-bound, she is not allowed more than one visitor at a time."

Another resident who contacted Cllr Hawkesworth added: "Whilst I appreciate the virtual parking passes are ok for some of us, Bradford have completely missed a huge sector of society who can not administrate on the internet for visitors each time they visit and this may be left to a relative to administrate by phone to go on Bradford's parking site and register a vehicle visiting an elderly relative or other person with difficulties.

"A physical pass for an elderly person to give to a visitor is much more agreeable than the stress of virtual passes at Bradford's convenience. This virtual scheme for elderly people, people not on the internet, people with other difficulties is somewhat unacceptable. The scheme totally discriminates to several sectors of society and is therefore not fit for purpose."

A Bradford Council spokesperson, said: “Virtual permits offer a number of improvements over the old paper-based permits. They are much more environmentally friendly and cannot be copied or lost or stolen.

“Virtual permits also don’t need to be displayed which cuts down parking tickets for people who forget to put them on their dashboards or where they’ve fallen off.

“Applications for parking permits has been online without any issues since 2017 but we have written out to all residents explaining how to apply for virtual permits.

“We understand a very small number of residents may struggle with the online system as some did with the old paper-based permits.

“The online application process is very simple and should only take a matter of minutes, however if people require help, they can email ParkingServices@bradford.gov.uk and will we assist them.

“For people who do not have access to a computer, email account or smart phone, a friend, family member or neighbour may be able to help

“People who don’t have anyone who can help can contact us on 01274 434300 and we will help them set up a virtual permit, however, they will need to send us the relevant evidence to prove their eligibility.

“Older expired paper permits will honoured until the 15 August so people have plenty of time to apply for the new virtual permits.”